1) Does Playa Viva have Air Conditioning in the Rooms
NO, none of the Casitas has artificial air-conditioning. The only air-conditioning available is the natural breeze flowing from the ocean. We have engineered the Casitas and other common areas to maximize the flow of air, minimize the heat effect from the sun and make the environment as pleasant as possible. If you must encase yourself in a refrigerated room to be comfortable, Playa Viva is not for you.
2. Is it difficult to build sustainably in Mexico?
It is difficult to build sustainably anywhere if you are not able to make some hard choices about how to build the right way. Luckily, we have a great team with lots of experience in this area. This started with the Regenesis team and their thought leadership throughout the Charette/Design process. It continues with our Design/Build Architect, Michel Lewis. Michel has over 20 years building green and sustainably in Mexico. Given his long history in building sustainably, it is easier now than ever before to build correctly. A quick example of how the design team works: we were walking the site when the head of the Turtle Camp asked me if we wanted them to burn the thousands of egg shells left over from the Turtle Sanctuary. The common practice in Mexico is to burn trash but we had already worked with them on NOT burning trash. I asked him not to burn them and we’d come up with a good use for the eggs. I turned to Michel, our architect, and asked him, "Hey Michel, what do we do with all these egg shells?" He said he’d think about it and get back to me. Two minutes later he said, "About those egg shells, we can grind them up and add them to cob." Cob is a building material consisting of clay, sand, straw, water, and earth, similar to adobe. Cob is fireproof, resistant to seismic activity, and inexpensive. It can be used to create artistic, sculptural forms and has been revived in recent years by the natural building and sustainability movements (from Wikipedia). This is just one of many stories on how the team collaborates and innovates to build sustainably and beyond.
3. What is the ocean and beach like at Playa Viva?
The beach is white sand, not too coarse, not too fine, it is just right. The beach contours gentle rise to a layer of small dunes about 1050 to 200 yards from the water line. The water is open-ocean. The waves can vary in height depending on season and high tide/low tide. The water is swim-able, with no rocks, but it is open-ocean so swimmers should be good, cautious swimmers. It is a surfing area but really only for the best surfers. Beginner and novice surfing is within a 1 hour drive.
4. What is your definition of Sustainability (how sustainable are you)?
Great question. Sustainability by definition needs to be at least net neutral in damage and be able to sustain itself in the long run. Thus, a sustainable business that upholds to the values of “triple bottom line” must benefit the community, the environment and make good business (generate a profit). Now a really sustainable business wouldn’t be much of a business if it made a loss. Similarly, it would not be sustainable if the endeavor degraded the value of either the environment or the local community. Our goal is to be regenerative, not just to make less damage (building green) or net neutral (Sustainable) but to make a significant impact in creating a better local economy, more resilient and thriving ecosystems and still have a profitable business endeavor. We also feel that to be truly sustainable, these values need to be core to your people and organization. Sustainability just can’t be a department you add because that is part of your marketing message. Sustainability needs to be the way everyone involved in the project thinks and acts; it needs to be core to our DNA! We start with these values, now the challenge is to lead, to transfer and to inculcate these into the whole community that is Playa Viva (and beyond).
5. How can you be luxury and sustainable?
Simple, luxury is not gold plated faucets and marble floors. Luxury is about attention to detail in design and service. An old tree branch can be crafted into sustainable and luxurious towel rack; making sure that you have a sun dried organic luxurious bath towel handy that was washed from water sourced from a bountiful well on site, cleaned in a washing machine powered by solar energy, and waste-water that flows to an onsite natural waste-water treatment facility for cleaning and discharging back into nature to replenish the water table - now that is sustainable luxury. This is how luxury and sustainability coexist.
6. What kind of community are you trying to create?
It sounds trite to say we are creating a community of like-minded individuals, but that is what we are trying to do. So what are these individuals like? They are like you, they are part of families that are interested in making this world a better place. They are involved in interesting activities, they are smart, they want to be healthy, they believe that we suffer from “nature deficit disorder” and want to participate in creating community. In the many years we have operated Casa Viva, what surprises us most and brings us the most joy is the response that we get from guests who meet people they never knew before staying with us and have maintained those new friendships long after their stay. Playa Viva, self-selects a very special type of person, the type of person you want to meet and with whom you want share this experience.
7. Is there any good surfing nearby?
Yes, the waves at Playa Icacos and La Barrita, next door to Playa Viva, are for better surfers. Surfing for beginners and intermediates is within a one hour drive of Playa Viva.
8. Is having an Archaeological site on the property a good or bad thing?
At first, we thought having an archeological site at Playa Viva might be problematic. But in the long run, the site is a huge bonus. The site provides a cultural connection between the ancient site and the current village of Juluchuca. It provides a center of historical pride for the community. It also verifies that this is a rich and vibrant place that cultures and peoples have lived here for centuries. The fact that an archeological site is part of Playa Viva, and as a co-owner, is located on your property, enhances the mystery and magic that makes living in Mexico so wonderful. We are making every effort to respect the site and to partner with the right organizations to restore this site.